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Using the Shapoko

Directions are specifically for Linux (Ubuntu 16.04 on the Dell Latitude E6410 laptop in the wall storage units), though might translate easily to Windows.

Powering up

There are two power cords and one usb cord. The thinner, un-grounded cord is for the controller board while the grounded cord drives the spindle. To do testing all you need is the controller power and USB plugged in.

Software to drive the machine

First, grab some software to be able to send G-code to the controller board. The one I have chosen is the Universal G-CODE sender: I was using 2.0 Classic released July 28, 2017 and installed apt install default-jre to run it.

After plugging it in, check if linux recognized the USB to Serial IC with lsusb. If you see a device "Future Technology Devices Internation, Ltd FT232 USB-Serial (UART) IC" then you are good to go. Grab it's device mount point by running dmesg | grep FTDI | grep ttyUSB | tail -n 1.

Open the Universal Sender and enter the settings for the connection to USB:

  • Port: /dev/ttyUSB{0-9} (that one you found with dmesg)
  • Baud: 115200
  • Firmware: GRBL

Note you will have to manually enter the ttyUSB since the java app only looks at the ttyS devices (which this is not). The Port is given by the previous command.

In this software, it will likely start with an Alarm. To clear the alarm send the g-code "$X", this will clear it. From there, it should say Active State: Idle and you can begin to control the machine.

Designing G-code

There are many ways to actual generate the tool paths. One example given by the Shapoko people is:

With this tutorial, I cannot find a way to control spindle speed. However, you can directly input the commands to start and stop the spindle before and after you run the G-code paths.

To start the spindle, run a command of the form "M3S1000" where the second number 1000 determines the spindle speed in RPM (1000 RPM in this case). You can then stop the spindle with "M5".